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ActionAid India: A new age NGO
Yusuf Begg |
November 05, 2003
To hear Jerry Almeida speak, you'd think you were talking to an emerging marketing guru.
Actually, he's director (fund-raising) of the NGO, ActionAid India (AAI). He employs modern marketing tools to raise money.
And these include roping in P3Ps for programmes such as "Fundraiser at home" or the "Page 3 campaign" that will be launched this evening at Anand Gram on Delhi's Mehrauli-Gurgaon road.
Designed by ad agency O&M, the Page 3 campaign will appear in the city supplements of national dailies.
The essence of the campaign is to juxtapose serious issues (such as homelessness and poverty) with "the city's stony set schmoozing over wine and caviar."
It will sign off with the line "Not your regular Page 3 crowd. But they are the ones who deserve your attention."
The latest campaign is in line with AAI's attempts to reach out to both the classes and the masses.
"We want to use the draw of P3Ps to promote our cause. Our aim is to use this space to create a more humanitarian society," says Almeida.
For the last few months, AAI, a development organisation working for the marginalised communities in India since 1972, has been using different campaigns to raise public consciousness and money for its programmes.
September saw the launch of "Karm Mitra", a unique donor loyalty programme in Delhi. (The programme was launched in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and in Kolkata last Monday.)
"We're marketing this programme as a product. A donor who becomes a part of this programme will get something in return," informs Almeida.
The NGO has tied up with ICICI Bank, Om Kotak Mahindra, Heritage Hotels, Reliance Infocomm and Mantra Entertainment Ltd to bring Karm Mitra donors certain benefits.
Besides tax exemptions, donors will also be able to avail of music concert tickets, invitation to film premieres and fundraising celebrity charity ball and dinner, credit cards, holiday packages, life insurance among others.
Almeida says Karm Mitra offers donors tangible benefits in lieu of his money. And for the corporates, being part of Karm Mitra is an extension of their social responsibility.
It is also a cause-related marketing strategy. The corporates get access to the programme's database of high net worth individuals.
There are four categories of donors in the Karm Mitra programme, depending upon the annual donation.
"We're looking at raising between Rs 12 crore (Rs 120 million) and Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) with 15,000 mitras by the end of next year," says Almeida.
"It's actually a minuscule percentage of the potential 3 crore (30 million) members that we'll target."
Almeida observes that Indians are more willing to donate for religious causes. However, his organisation is determined to motivate and involve society to advocate for social causes.
"We want our organisation to be a platform for a wide range of society, from socialites to students to bureaucrats to join hands to fight for the marginalised people," he says.
With the number of NGOs in the social sector increasing, the donor pie has shrunk. AAI has started using strategies that were unheard of in the NGO sector to increase the market base.
In March this year, under the Delhi 4 Change programme, it organised an evening of theatre at socialite Nafisa Ali's house. The gathering managed to raise around Rs 6 lakh (Rs 600,000) for the homeless people of Delhi.
"Gone are the days of sending mailers and waiting for responses from the donor. Now we have to be much more proactive to bring in donors and then keep them involved," explains Almeida, adding, "We've to explore newer methods to sensitise and induce people to donate. Direct sales associates of banks and multi-level marketing channels need to be used innovatively to spread awareness. Basically we've to become professionals."
AAI's approach might be the first step in the process of corporatisation of the NGO sector. It may also see the death of the jholawallah activist.